‘The Arrow and the Song’
Who doesn’t love a good dose of beautiful, kind or soul stirring words? I love them even more when woven together in rhyme and metre echoing thoughts and longings I have never been able to articulate. This is why poetry is such as essential part of our home education.
I couldn’t agree more with John Locke and Ms Mason that poetry like excellent stories, furnishes our mind with mental pictures that inform our thought life and eventually our entire life’s atmosphere.
Similarly, one of our greatest polymaths who knew a lot about many things, Leonardo da Vinci had this to say about poetry, “ Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”
Last week, Sonshine and I fell in love with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Arrow and the Song, during our morning time last week. This poem is our classic poem selection in the September ‘A Liturgy of Love’ Morning Time Pack. Like a beautiful painting full of evocative imagery, this poem unearthed a swathe of nostalgia for unencumbered childhood friendship in my son and the search for intimacy in the heart of one true love in mine.
“I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.”
To some this poem is about the power of words, the fact that once words are said, we cannot control its impact. For others it is a rich symbolism of the journey of life.
For Sonshine, the opening lines of the poem brings to mind someone whistling a song with secrets into the air which was later echoed in the heart of a friend. A sort of “What? You too?” moment.
For me, the poem alludes to creative vulnerability. You know that moment when we find the courage we put something of ourselves out there not knowing how it may be received. A sort of daring greatly moment when we shoot our message and wait for the affirmations, the validations, the ‘ I know exactly what you mean” moment. Every now and then, for me when I least expect it, I am left overwhelmed to find someone or a group of people who echo the tune of my song like that unbroken arrow in the oak and song in the heart of a friend.
Whatever this poem might mean to you, what is indisputably obvious, is its evocative flow of potent yet gentle symbolisms cleverly drawn from Mother Nature herself.
Learning from Poetry
Another useful tip to make poetry come alive in your home has been borrowed from our very own @Modernmissmason, Leah Boden. Leah suggests keeping asking children to poetry journal like a nature journal where you have your child illustrate a picture of their favourite line from the poem. This quoted line could then be written beautifully somewhere on the drawing.
So dear friends, for this week, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver
Poet Facts: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
🌻Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as born in Portland, Maine in the US. He displayed an interest in linguistics at an early age and eventually went on to teach modern languages at Harvard.
🌻Did you know Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said this poem come to him on October 16, 1845, as fast as an arrow as he sat with his back to a fire whilst preparing for a church sermon?
🌻Do you know which other black musician of Sierra Leonean descent (albeit far more accomplished) that Longfellow’s poetry inspired 200 years ago?
🌻Check out Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s art study and other poems, songs and fables in our Family Learning Morning Time Curriculum A Liturgy of Love here: https://homegrownsonshine.co.uk/a-liturgy-of-love-alol-2/